New Year’s: Loaded For Bear

And besides this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue;
and to virtue knowledge;
and to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;
and to patience godliness;
and to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound,
they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                                      — 2 Peter 1:5-8


So there we were, bored stiff in the Denver airport, en route home from a holiday trip. It was New Year’s Eve. I was flipping through the Bible looking for a stellar verse around which to craft my perpetual New Year’s resolutions:


1. Let nothing but dry broccoli and turnip greens pass my lips until I can fit into those cute clothes I’ve been saving since the late 1980s.


2. Get off my duff and exercise for eight hours a day six times a week, scaling it down to a mere seven hours on Sundays.


3. Transform into a person who is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, especially since the Huskers are going to get good again and my mood has lifted considerably.


As usual, I was overthinking and overcomplicating my New Year’s resolutions. If I spent one-tenth of the energy actually living up to them as I did planning them. . . .


Suddenly, up popped this ginormous dude in a checkered shirt. He had piercing blue eyes and a great, big smile. He was greeting my Beloved with hugs and back-slaps. He enveloped my pudgy, city-slicker hand in his big, calloused, cowboy paw with a hearty laugh.


Turns out he is the brother of the neighbor who took my Beloved fishing for a week in Canada last summer. They were in a big bunch of fun-lovin’, hard-fishin’ guys who’d had a blast up there being bearded bachelors together, scratching what itched when they wanted to, how they wanted to, and so forth


He confirmed the size of my Beloved’s claimed 28” walleye catch by quickly finding the proof on his digital camera. He’s such an anti-technology dude, he doesn’t even own a computer, so he couldn’t email it to him. But that was OK: like everything in the out-of-doors, it’s the memory that counts, and the stories you can tell.


Tim was en route home to southern Missouri after a ski trip with his family in the Rockies. Like us, he was killing time in Denver before his flight home to his cattle ranch. He is one of those adventurous, outdoorsy guys about whom there should be a TV series, although, of course, he doesn’t own a TV, either, so he couldn’t even watch his own show.


But he has done all kinds of crazy things all over the country, he’s as strong as an ox, and he has all the outdoorsman skills . . . including storytelling.


As he told this one, I realized that the Lord had sent my answer for my New Year’s resolution, in the way that speaks the best to me: a story.


It seems that Tim was out in the boondocks of Wyoming or someplace wild, with a bunch of friends and their sons. It sounded as if they were tent-camping. One night around the fire, one of the young men said it was his dream to someday shoot a bear. It was legal in that neck o’ the woods, but a rare coup. Most just shrugged off the notion. But Tim filed it in his “things to do” file.


He’s the kind of a guy who wants to make your dreams come true if he possibly can. He gets a big kick out of that kind of stuff.


Next day, he was out on the range alone on his trusted horse Roanie, when . . . what do you suppose? . . . wouldn’t you know? . . . he rounded a bend and ran smack into a big, black bear!


Cowboy Tim instinctively went for his lasso. He roped that bear on the spot.


When he realized the bear was so close to the horse that he might jump them, he immediately parceled out about 20 more feet, and then – as if Roanie needed urging – high-tailed it back to camp.


That bear galloped right behind them, occasionally somersaulting, but never getting too close to the strong, steady lope of Roanie. Meanwhile, Tim grinned with anticipation over what the young man’s face would look like when he saw that bear “as ordered.” But Tim was also going into a little bit of panic mode over what could happen if the horse stumbled or somehow that bear caught up to them.


He was hootin’ and hollerin’ so loud as the odd trio galloped into camp that the young man heard the commotion, saw them coming – rubbed his eyes – looked again – and got his gun. He was already out, literally loaded for bear, when they came near enough. He got off his shot, clean and true. He got the bear.


“You SAID you wanted to shoot a bear, so I BRUNG you one!” Tim deadpanned. He said it was one of the happiest moments of his life.


At that moment, I knew how Jesus feels when one of His children receives one of His blessings. Think of all the work that Jesus had to do to get our attention . . . including dying on the Cross . . . all the things He has to do to bless us today in our complicated, distractible world. And yet, no matter how outrageous our desires are, if they align with His purposes, He will do anything – ANYTHING! – to give us what we want.


It’s His favorite thing.


Of course, we have to cooperate. Tim had a steady horse and a good, prepared rope, or else he would never have been able to pull off that unBEARably special delivery.


But his story reminds us that, when we finally do get our blessing, who’ll be grinning the widest? The Lord!


I asked Tim what his New Year’s resolution was. He looked down at his shoes with a humble grin. He answered, “Same as always. I wake up every morning and ask myself, ‘How can I be a little bit better person today?’”


So simple. So perfect!


So that’s mine, too. I’m going into the New Year loaded for bear. Expecting God’s blessings around every bend. Keeping my lasso supple and my mount well-fed. Keeping myself eager to go all out to bring blessings to everyone around the campfire . . .  and to put a great, big smile on the Trailmaster’s Face. †

By Susan Darst Williams | | Holidays | © 2020